Blog: Thoughts and Ideas

Coding a Site From Scratch, Solo

Published on: 2024-01-16
Updated on: 2024-01-25
I've used my website to learn a ton, but I've never honestly tried to make it "work" as a site. It's far easier to re-write a site in a somewhat superficial way than really dig in an make a site that does everything really well.

This is my last site re-write

A site is not the technology

I've been working with the web since 1999. At least, that's when somebody started paying me a salary to be serious about it. And, that was pretty cool - the stuff I'd experimented with at home was now my job.

I bought this domain before that, in 1996. At the time, it was actually a little difficult to figure out how to get a site running. None of the services we use now to quickly make sites existed. So there was a ton of "write raw HTML, save to a file, then FTP upload the files to a server". If it looked good, that was a win!

In the professional world, there were people to handle each layer - a server team, a back-end/database team, a network team, coders, and on and on.

But for an "enthusiast" like me? I had to start at the bottom of the stack (servers, etc) and then work my way up to something that loaded in a browser.

And, this set me back because it took so much energy to get the site running that by the time pages showed up, I was drained. Then, as there were security patches and all that crap that had to be done lest the site be compromised, even more energy was drained.

So I never really got the site going, except for a few years where I ran WordPress in the mid-2000s. Even then, there was WAY too much fiddling with servers and CPanel and all that.

Shiva's Six Arms

Shiva gets things done.

I had some time in autumn to think deeply about the web and how I was using it. Repeatedly building and rebuilding sites had paid-off for my career as I know the languages, services, cloud providers, security gotchas, and more. (Well, my work on my personal site plus my professional on-the-job experience combined nicely.)

But this site hasn't represented me. I hate the term "personal brand" but if I'm going to have a vanity domain ( then I need to admit that this is 100% about personal branding.

So I'm working hard to do two key things: (a) have a site that looks good and (b) has something worth reading or seeing.

Thus, the wish to be Shiva. Other than being a god, I'd also have enough arms and attention to do ALL THE THINGS.

Adjust the CSS? Sure!

Add technical SEO schema behind the scenes? Done!

Write something interesting? Easy!

...but I dont' have six arms, so that's not happening.


Showing progress by issue numbers completed

Until I grow the extra four arms I need and suddenly convert into a deity, I'm using a simple formula to track progress and stay motivated:

The Code:

For the code, I'm using GitHub. It allows programmers the ability to save code, track versions and changes, and more. Importantly, it lets programmers open 'issues' that describe a bug or enhancement for the project.

From the day I re-launched with this, I have been using the issues feature in Github as a way to track things that just aren't great.

Today, I opened issue #63 for section headers on posts when the post is being read on a narrower viewport (like a phone). That's 62 other things fixed since January 4th.

What's motivating about this is that I've fixed around five things a day. Most are tiny (like that stying on section headers) but still...that's a good track record.

The Words:

This is the fourth post on this new incarnation. That's around a post every three days. That's probably a reasonable tempo to write as I'm not a full-time author, I'm also fixing five code issues a day, and the things I really want to write about are big enough that I'll have to settle for little stuff like this for a month or two.

Practice makes perfect, though. I'm not super pleased with this writing. It's very navel-gazing, looking at all the "I'm" and "my" and other pronouns. Hopefully, it's better than having a stale, quiet site.

Time will tell.